Men earn more money than women. Sounds pretty unfair, right? If you're getting angry just thinking about it, now you can take action.
Here we break down what the gender pay gap really means, how it affects you, and what you can do about.
1. Men get paid more than women: it’s a fact
The term ‘gender pay gap’ basically means the difference between the average hourly pay for men and women. In the UK, men got paid 18.4% more than women in April 2017 – that’s according to the Office for National Statistics.
The most recent figures reveal that more than three-quarters of UK companies pay men more on average than women.
In some Career Zones it can be even worse: academy schools have some of the country’s worst pay gaps. In the retail sector, gaps can be as high as 50%. Some banking and finance employers pay their male employees bonuses that are a whopping 60% more than the ones they pay to women.
2. The gender pay gap is *not* the same as equal pay
“Is this legal?!” we hear you shout. Well, it’s not actually against the law to have a gender pay gap. Here’s why…
Companies have a legal requirement to pay men and women who are doing the same (or very similar) job the same salary. But it’s not illegal to have a gap in the average pay of male and female staff.
So: an employer could meet the basic legal requirement to pay their female and male employees equally – but it could still have a big gender pay gap. (One reason might be there are more men in high-paid jobs at the top of the company.)
But remember: while having a pay gap is not illegal, it can be a sign of discrimination. For example, if men are in more senior roles, maybe the company’s rules about parental leave are unfair, or there is a problem with the recruitment and hiring process.
We actually just made this video about equality and discrimination – check it out to learn more about your rights:
3. There are lots of reasons for the gap
So why is there a gender pay gap in the first place? The answer is not simple, with many complex reasons. We’ve outlined some of them below, so next time someone tries to mansplain the pay gap to you, bust out these facts.
- Caring: women often care for children or the elderly, meaning they are more likely to have part-time jobs which can be lower paid or don’t offer as many chances for promotion.
- Low-paid jobs: women are still more likely to have lower-paid and lesser-skilled roles.
- Discrimination: the Equality and Human Rights Commission discovered that 1 in 9 new mothers were either fired or treated so badly that they felt they had to leave their job.
Be aware that there are also some myths out there. For example, some men will tell you that women don’t earn as much because they’re not tough negotiators when it comes to asking for a raise. But research has shown that when women do negotiate, it can still have a negative impact on their chances.
It’s also really important to remember than it’s not just about gender. There are overlapping factors that can affect how much people are paid – for example girls and young women of colour experience a wider gap.
4. It starts when you’re at school
Think all this stuff doesn’t matter to you because you’re still at school? No such luck. If you’re at school or college and have a part-time job, you’ll probably still be affected by the gender pay gap.
New research has shown that the gap starts to appear when workers are around 14 and 15 years old. Male babysitters, for example, are paid more than girls. And when girls ask for more money, they’re less likely to get it than boys.
5. You can find out if your company is paying you less
Time’s up! This week, all private companies with over 250 employees in the UK have been forced by law to reveal their gender pay gap.
The data showed that 78% of companies pay men more than women on average. Only 8% said they had no gender pay gap.
So it’s time to find out exactly how it’s affecting you. Search for your company on the government's new service.
6. Now you can demand more
If by this point you’re as furious as we are, here’s the good news. This week a group of female MPs launched a campaign called #PayMeToo. It gives women lots of advice and tips on how to tackle the gap at your workplace. The campaign encourages you to ask colleagues what they earn, and that you can question managers about your company’s plan for dealing with the gap. One important tip is to join a union – they will support and advise you.